Voice of a New Player: Meet Owen Harris-Evans

Owen Harris-Evans recently joined the Vulcans after a five year gap after having played Rugby all the way through school. After itching to return to the sport Owen discovered the Sheffield Vulcans on Instagram and hasn’t looked back since. This is his story…

I have played Rugby for most of my life and after about five years away from the sport I was missing it. Having thought for a long time about my eventual return, I begun to browse social media to see what local clubs were available in Sheffield. After a bit of research I discovered The Sheffield Vulcans and based on what I discovered from their social media accounts, I knew the team would accept me for me and allow me to make a positive contribution to the club.

My first training session went really great. As soon as I arrived up at Sheffield Tigers RUFC, I immediately felt welcome by everyone. It was nice to see people from all levels of skill playing together and encouraging each other and I knew from that second… I made the right choice. You see, I really believe in inclusivity and want everyone to enjoy the sport as much as I do without fear of being excluded or disrespected.

Even though I felt rusty in that first training session, I felt one of the team immediately. The Vulcans have a massive diversity of people of all ages, shapes and sizes who come and play and I was very impressed by just how inclusive and friendly IGR teams are. Although I have not had chance to play an official game yet because of what’s going on with the pandemic, I have been involved with several touch games during practice.

That said, I know the team is looking forward to the day when we can return to full contact but we are all dedicated to keeping our training sessions as covid-secure as possible. I’ll tell you what though, It’s great to see everyone getting stuck in even though it’s mainly focused on fitness and touch. At the end of the day, it’s nice just to be back on a pitch with a rugby ball.

One last thought, If you are considering trying Rugby, please get involved. It is great for not only your physical health but your mental health too. Come join the Vulcans. You will find a great community of people working together to further the game for everyone.

We’d like to thank Owen for his time to share his story. He has demonstrated an incredible level of skill in the game and we’re glad to have him as a member of the Sheffield Vulcans and we’re excited to see what his future holds.


Sheffield Vulcans Recommend: 10 Must-See Horror Films For Halloween 2020

With Halloween right around the corner and despite the recent pandemic there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the holiday in your home. The Vulcans will be celebrating Halloween together by watching Round 5 of the Six Nations in the comfort and safety of our own homes and then will be taking part in a special Halloween themed team quiz that we will be hosting on Zoom followed by more Rugby and our famous Quiz After Dark.

But, just in case you’d rather jam your hand into a blender than take part in another Zoom quiz (which we strongly oppose – for your own safety), the Sheffield Vulcans have got together to recommend 10 Must-See Horror Films For Halloween 2020 just in case you needed a little inspiration to watch something spooky instead.

Our first recommendation comes in the form of Wes Craven’s iconic slasher SCREAM.  A year after her mother was viciously murdered, Sidney Prescott becomes a target for a masked killer and everyone is a suspect. Despite its simple set up, SCREAM is a well-made slasher film that revived horror for mainstream audiences thanks to way it uses tired horror clichés as references before terrifying its audience with its thrilling chills. If it wasn’t for Scream, horror would not be the genre it is today and the film’s opening sequence still remains one of the most tense viewing experiences ever seen on film.

REC is a found footage horror film that works hard to terrify its audience. The film follows Angela, a late night reporter who is invited along to spend a night shadowing a team of Firemen working the twilight shift at the local station. After one fateful call sends the group heading towards an apartment building to come to the aid of an old lady trapped in her apartment. On arrival Angela soon finds herself coming face to face with an unstoppable virus that turns its host into a unstoppable killing machines. There’s no doubting the raw power that REC possesses. It knows what it takes to induce fear in its audience and every minute of the film will leave you perched at the edge of your seat and that’s why you should check it out.

According to a new scientific study, SINISTER is the scariest horror film ever, apparently. Now, everyone will know that when it comes to horror that it’s definitely a case of different strokes for different folks but there’s no denying just how unnerving SINISTER really is. Telling the story of a true-crime writer who moves his family into the home where a gruesome murder took place, only to be met with a supernatural enemy whose work dates back to the 1960s. If you like superbly executed jump scares and horrific visuals then this will be right up your street.

Storming the festival circuit around the world, Graham Hughes’ DEATH OF A VLOGGER is one of the most creative shockers out there. Telling the story of Graham, an ambitious vlogger who experiences fame when a video featuring an alleged haunting goes viral. What starts out so casually builds momentum very quickly and becomes wonderfully unpredictable. That’s all you need to know about this flawless indie horror. It’s now available to stream for FREE on Amazon Prime which will make for perfect viewing for those who have ever suspected their home to be haunted.

Long before The Conjuring was released, James Wan and Leigh Whannell teamed up to create Insidious, a genuinely scary haunted house thriller that stays with you long after the credits end. The film follows the Lambert family who desperately look to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a demonic realm. With a pitch perfect musical score and stunning cinematography, James Wan cemented his place as a modern master of horror by throwing the rule book out of the window to create something so uniquely special that it has continued to terrifying audiences with genuine chills instead of relying solely on jump scares. If this is your first watch, be prepared to spend the night sleeping with the lights on.

Our next recommendation comes from our Captain Innes MacLeod who describes it as deeply unsettling and creepily atmospheric. Although more artistic than a conventional horror film, Eraserhead follows a man called Henry Spencer as he tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.  If you want to try something more cerebral this Halloween then why not check it out.

Our next recommendation comes from our very own Chris Moore. GREEN ROOM is a real tour de force from director Jeremy Saulnier who directs an all-star cast including the likes of the late Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Patrick Stewart. The film follows a punk rock band who is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar deep in the woods. Every bit as violent as you are led to believe, Green Room shows no mercy to its audience as every gut wrenching moment is unbearably tense from the very start. Certainly not one for the faint of heart, the real monsters here are people.

From Paul W.S. Anderson (yes, that one who gave you the likes of Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil and Death Race), EVENT HORIZON has been hailed as one of the most underrated best sci-fi/horror films ever made. It follows a rescue crew as they investigate a spaceship that recently disappeared into a black hole only to return with someone or something new on-board.  Despite dividing audiences, Event Horizon exists as a perfect blend of sci-fi action and deep rooted scares which provides plenty of nightmare fuel and sleepless nights.

If you’d like to experience something lighter that cheerfully celebrates sexual freedom, murder and cannibalism, then The Rocky Horror Picture Show will be the mental mindfuck that you’re looking for.  The feature adaptation of Richard O’Brien’s musical, Rocky Horror has cemented it’s place as the ultimate cult classic and stars Tim Curry as the wonderfully twisted Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The film also sees Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick as a newly engaged couple whose car breaks down in an isolated area only to seek shelter at a creepy castle on the night that a new life is born. You know the rest…

We have plenty of high praise for John Carpenter’s classic slasher HALLOWEEN. Set fifteen years after the murder of a young woman on Halloween night, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield to kill again.  Although it is now 42 years old, Halloween was the first and the best – the Godfather of slasher movies. Perfectly framed with Carpenters iconic theme, Halloween remains a masterpiece from start to finish and gave birth to one of the most intimidating modern horror icons that still scares us to this very day.

Honourable mentions: MIDSOMMAR (2019), HEREDITARY (2018), PSYCHO (1960), ALIEN (1979), EL ORFANATO (2007), THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), CHRISTINE (1983) and the ultimately terrifying CATS (2019).

There you have our 10 Must See Horror Films For Halloween 2020. If you would like to share your recommendations with us let us know on social media by using the hashtag #VulcanVoice. Thanks for reading.


Starting a new fitness journey? Take your time!

Whether you’re starting a new fitness journey or if you have decided to join your friendly neighbourhood IGR team for the first time, it’s always best to build up your fitness as naturally as possible. Don’t rush into it or push yourself too far as you will likely injure yourself in the process.

As for Rugby, we all know that it is a sport played by people of all ages and sizes but it is vital that our players can last for a full 80 minutes on the pitch. That’s why, in a previous Vulcans blog, our very own Dan J was inspired by James Haskell and recommended five rounds of short bursts HIIT exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home (click here to read the blog).HadriansCup2019

Now, in the times of the not-so-wonderful Ms Corona, rising uncertainty caused by the Government’s additional restrictions to curb the increase of Covid-19 cases across the country has led to the RFU Governance Committee to make a tough decision and they have delayed competitive play for grassroots teams until January 2021 at the earliest. So, whilst we will continue to work on our fitness, handling skills and take part in light contact during training, now is the time to practice self-care whilst you work on improving your fitness.

That said, it’s equally important to remember that it will take time and commitment before you see any results or improvement in your fitness. So, whatever you do, please don’t tap out early if you fail to see improvements within the first week. Work within what you feel comfortable with and you’ll eventually start to notice a difference in your ability and you’ll be one step closer to your fitness goal.

Oh, and eat a healthy diet… you can never outrun a diet consisting of junk! If you’re going to treat yourself then make sure you work hard for it!


How Playing Video Games Can Help You On the Pitch

If your childhood was anything like mine you might have put thousands of hours into your Playstation, X-Box or PC playing some of the most popular releases over the last decade being told by your family and other half that you’re wasting your time. However, did you know that all those hours you have banked can actually lead to an improved performance in sport? Of course you did…

According to a study published in the journal Communication Research, playing just 20 minutes of video games can allegedly improve your hand-eye coordination. That’s right, Researches had 151 colleague students spend 20 minutes playing video games and 99 percent more were able to utilise the skills boost they obtained from gameplay helped them in a subsequent lab controlled hand-eye coordination test.

Further research has continued to prove that there are various benefits to playing video games. These include cognitive benefits, such as improved reaction time, improved mental flexibility, and improved spatial abilities, as well as other types of benefits, such as reduced stress levels, increased self-esteem, and increased prosocial behaviour.

First, let’s consider the cognitive benefits:

  1. It is believed that video games can improve your recognition ability and special memory. They can improve your reaction time, without decreasing accuracy.
  2. Playing first-person shooters can improve your mental flexibility which will make you better at adapting to change.
  3. Games can also improve your visual processing ability which can make you better at identifying important information and ignoring irrelevant distractions.

Now let’s consider the general benefits of playing video games:

  1. Nervous about an upcoming match or can’t find a way to wind down after a training session? Playing video games can help you relax and reduce your stress levels.
  2. They can also increase your self-esteem and improve your mood. Plus the more competent you feel at the game, the more you’ll benefit in this regard. This is a great way to give yourself a quick confidence boost.
  3. Playing video games that involve cooperating with other players can increase people’s prosocial behaviour in real life. So, if you like to play PlayerUnknown’s Battleground or Fortnite with your friends then you’ll be able to develop your communication skills that you can use on the pitch and improve interpersonal relationships with your teammates.
  4. A lot of us suffer with anxiety be it on or off the pitch and there’s no shame in that. If this affects you it’s time to smile as it is widely believed that playing therapeutic video games can improve mental-health outcomes in various ways by engaging your brain in relaxing tasks to help you overcome feelings of unease. Such games as The Sims 4 or Animal Crossing would be perfect for this.
  5. Lastly, playing certain video games can improve physical-health outcomes in various ways, such as by encouraging people to exercise or by educating people about health-related topics. So, if you can’t make it to training or don’t have time to go for that mid-week gym session, try your hand at such physical games as Just Dance or my personal favourite, Beat Sabre. Both of these games are great at getting you to move and help work off those pesky carbs.

There you have it. A brief look at how playing video games can help you on the Rugby pitch. Before I go, please note that gaming is no real replacement for actual exercise. You’ll still need to make an effort to attend as many training sessions and take part in additional physical exercise (whatever form that may take is down to you). So be smart, play safe… and most importantly, enjoy yourself.

And now a warning…

Please take the information you read here today as alleged and shouldn’t be taken strictly as fact. Sure, it may win you some extra few minutes on the console in an argument with your better half but please remember that playing video games uninterrupted for long periods of time can lead to many hours lost, late nights, eye strain and arguments. So, just like any form of exercise, take it easy, have fun and if you ever feel uncomfortable doing it, take a break and get plenty of sleep. Oh, and stay hydrated too!


Captain’s Log – Reflecting on the Vulcans 19/20 Performance

Ahead of our upcoming Birthday Social taking place at Sheffield Tigers RUFC on Saturday 22nd August our Captain, Innes MacLeod, has taken a moment to reflect on what has happened since he released his start of the season blog.

I wrote a blog at the start of the season where I set out our hopes for the year ahead. My focus was on looking at the small victories. We are a young club and, though we are ambitious, we know that growing to be the successful team we know we can be is no small task. It requires work and dedication. When I wrote that blog I was looking back to the previous season which was undoubtedly a season of small victories. We had grown in numbers, improved in skill and were building confidence but that didn’t always translate to success on the pitch. It seemed appropriate to focus and be proud on what we had achieved and to build on those small victories.

What I didn’t expect was what this season would bring. Though it was tragically cut short the previous year was the Vulcans most successful ever. We went from a solitary win the year before to winning the majority of our games. We won our first away game and broke too many club scoring records to count. The leap we made was astronomical. At the beginning of this season we were a development team by the end of it we were something more.

This wasn’t just a year of wins on the field but success off of it as well. The Halloween and Pride parties we hosted were our biggest ever social events and were an absolute blast. Our membership has continued to grow strongly. Most importantly we have gone from training on a public park to having the excellent facilities of the Sheffield Tigers, a relationship we hope to grow in the coming year.

To look back at the blog I wrote I see now I was maybe more cautious than I had a right to be. If I had looked around me I would have seen the foundation of the season to come. From our committee who have worked to continue our growing strength, our coaches whose patience helped us develop, to our players and members who give so much to this club. It’s the people that make a team and we have some pretty great people around.

The coming year will present significant challenges. It’s unclear when we can play the sport we love again. I look around at this team though and know that we have it in us to take on the challenges that lie ahead. My next blog won’t be so cautious.


Sheffield Vulcans Recommend: 5 Must-See LGBTQIA+ Films & TV Shows

Last year Michael Hudson wrote a blog about LGBT representation in Media in which he picked a handful of his favourites to share with our supporters. Now It’s been over a year since the blog has been published and it’s been fantastic to see more studios, television networks and independent content creators continue to prove that it is necessary to include the LGBTQIA+ community in their projects. So, in celebration of what should have been the weekend that Pride in Sheffield would have taken place, the Sheffield Vulcans have got together to recommend 5 Must-See LGBTQIA+ Films & TV Shows that celebrate our amazing community.

Described as essential viewing by our own Charlie PM, Matthew Warchus’s Pride is a stunning British historical comedy-drama that has received critical acclaim and several award nominations including the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture. Based on a true story, Pride follows a group gay and lesbian activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984. Starring an incredible cast including Andrew Scott, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West, Pride is a beautiful story packed with plenty of heart and humanity. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry but more importantly it will take you through some incredible history that proves If you’re willing to support your fellow person, great things can be achieved.

Our next recommendation comes in the form of the 5-part web-series The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo. Directed by, Written by and Starring Brian Jordan Alvarez (from TV’s Will & Grace), the series focuses on a group of LGBTQIA+ LA actors who are romantically intertwined. We love it because of its absurd comedic timing and intensely strong characterisation. The whole series wraps up in just an hour and a half and features a surprising heartfelt ending. So if you want to check it out for yourself then you’re in luck as the whole series is available to watch for FREE on YouTube. click here to watch it.

POSE is an outstanding drama series from the minds of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals. Serving face, looks and topics that dominated the 80s and early 90s, POSE is one of the first trans led, trans positive shows to tell the story of the culture within the African-American and Latino LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming ballroom scene. The show stars ensemble cast including Mj Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson and Billy Porter and is available in full on BBC iPlayer. So, if you are a fan of the amazing documentary Paris is Burning but have yet to watch POSE then you are sorely missing out on one of the most iconic shows ever produced.

Up next is the sleeper hit Shitt’s Creek. Created by Dan and Eugene Levy, the show follows the trails and tribulations of the formerly wealthy Rose family after they are forced to relocate to Shitt’s Creek, a small town they one purchased as a joke. On their arrival the Roses take up residence in town’s motel as they adjust to life without money and comedy ensues. At first glance the show appears to be a standard fish-out-water sitcom but  any Shitt’s Creek fan will confirm that it doesn’t take long to hook audiences thanks to it’s amazing writing, sense of humour and solid performances by its cast. The reason why this show made our list is because of the way the show embraces its central pan-sexual character David, played here by Dan Levy. We love the way David’s sexuality is simply accepted by other characters in the show with no expressions of homophobia in the story line and that deserves to be celebrated.

Written and directed by openly trans filmmakers, The Wachowski Sisters (the minds behind The Matrix franchise), Sense8 portrays the story of eight strangers from different parts of the whole who suddenly discover they are mentally and emotionally linked. We love the way the show explores subjects that are not commonly emphasised in many science fiction shows to date such as politics, identity, sexuality, gender and religion. The first season is available to stream on Netflix and we want you to check it out for its representation of LGBTQIA+ characters and themes.

There you have our 5 must-see LGBTQIA+ films and TV shows. If you would like to share your recommendations with us let us know on social media by using the hashtag #VulcanVoice. Thanks for reading.

What the Sheffield Vulcans Have Done For Me

Over the last two weeks we have been sharing the personal stories of several Vulcans and today we are sharing something equally as special. Tom Stephens joined the Sheffield Vulcans in August 2019 and since then he has deep-rooted himself in the team to exist as one of our most valued players. Off the pitch has forged life-long friendships and has used his time to combat his personal demons. This is Tom’s story:

I’m not one for writing much, but after almost one year with the Vulcans I’d like to take some time to reflect on where I started and everything the club has done for me since.

After a series of collapses, seizures, second degree burns, and a multitude of other medical anomalies, I had spent 3 years of university unable to sit any exams and feeling like I wasn’t going anywhere. I made the hard decision to take a year out of uni and move back home in hopes that a change of scenery might alleviate the rut I’d found myself in. It worked to some degree; I no longer thought of myself stuck at the end of those long 3 years. However, I was now isolated away from the friends I’d lived around for 6 years, feeling like I’d somehow given up or failed. I withdrew into myself, preparing for a year of simply waiting for it to be over. I barely left the house and was sleeping into the afternoon most days. I was in an unhealthy place, both physically and emotionally.

A month or so before Sheffield Pride I heard about a local inclusive rugby club which trained close to me. I’d had a passion for rugby when I was younger but had lost touch with it in the years since secondary school. Finding a need for both physical exercise and something to get me out of the house, I wanted to give it a try, but fear stopped me walking 10 minutes down the road and throw a ball around. A stupid fear that I’d be terrible, and people would laugh at me. A stupid fear that my lack of fitness would make me stand out for all the wrong reasons. I thought that even though the Vulcans were branded as ‘inclusive’, somehow that wouldn’t apply to me. A lot of stupid reasons when I think about it now, but back then they all seemed very real. When Sheffield Pride finally came around, I headed down to Endcliffe park with the intention of stopping by the Vulcans stall just to have a quick look and see what I was missing. That’s when I noticed the Vulcans were throwing a party that night. Whilst I may have been self-conscious about my sports prowess, my ability to drink has never been in doubt and so I went out. That night was exactly what I needed to snap me out of my fears. Instead of me standing in a corner awkwardly dancing, several of the Vulcans made a clear point to chat to me and bring me into other conversations. I didn’t feel like the new guy that people felt obliged to speak to, I felt like I was with people who wanted to get to know me. I decided that the Vulcans might be a place for me after all.

3 days after Sheffield Pride and the amazing after party, I attended my first training session. It was miserable weather, I was exhausted and sweaty, and I didn’t care about any of that. I had fun. I proved to be just as out of shape as I thought I was and had forgotten most of what I knew about how to play, though there was no judgement from anyone there. Getting out of the house for an hour of rugby gave me back some of the energy I’d lost in the last 3 years. It wasn’t some miracle cure for everything I was thinking and feeling, but I knew I needed to go back for the next session. Training quickly became my favourite part of the week partially for the rugby, more for the wonderful people I was getting to know. I joined at the same time as a few other players, and having some fellow newbies definitely made me feel better about how I compared to everyone else, but It soon became apparent that this wasn’t a club where being new meant you were on the outside. Within a few weeks I realised that my teammates were going to become my friends whether I wanted it or not. The worst year of my life was beginning to turn around.

As I began settling into the team properly and played my first game as a Vulcan, my worries over being accepted had completely gone. What I was scared about now was not being good enough and letting everyone down. Before this year, I would have let that fear sit with me while doing nothing to change the situation. Instead, I listened to the voices of the people around me. When you’re surrounded by so many incredible friends and role models, it’s hard not to take in what they say to you. I worked hard at improving not just my physical fitness, but the way I viewed exercise in general. I started to see my fitness as a measure of both my physical well-being and how much I cared about myself. In order to improve my ability on the pitch and impress the people I care about; I’d have to start treating myself better. It sounds like a terrible cliché to say that this rugby team changed my life, so instead I’ll say that joining the Vulcans changed the way I looked at myself and the value I put on things. For several months I continued to improve myself and make sure I earned the spot on the team that meant so much to me. Unfortunately, things started to decline for me very quickly when lockdown began.

Going from seeing my friends at least once a week to suddenly not seeing them for months hit me hard. I began to slide into my old unhealthy habits almost immediately. I retreated back into myself, barely talking to the people I considered my close friends and leaving the house only to go to work. The sudden halt of routine exercise and lack of motivation to work led to a rather rapid weight gain which only further demoralised me. I was back in a slump that had no clear end in sight, the exact circumstances I had taken a year out to escape from. This would not last for too long thankfully, as the friends I’d made in the Vulcans weren’t going to just let me feel sorry for myself. In particular, I want to give massive credit to Tiago and Lefty, for sending me so many messages and terrible Instagram memes that it was truly impossible to ignore them. Starting by getting me to just reply to messages and not cut people off, my teammates were dragging me out of the slump. The initiation of a weekly zoom quiz and subsequent after-dark hangout helped to somewhat restore the social interactions I desperately missed. Introduction of a weekly Strava leaderboard for the team gave me the incentive to start exercising, building back up from just walking to running again. Piece by piece, the joy and well-being I had lost was coming back, and every part of it was thanks to the Vulcans. Pushing myself with a flood of support around me, I started running greater distances than I’d run before, and topped the Strava leaderboard multiple times, a small achievement that means a lot to me. With the restart of small group training sessions and more in-person interactions, there has been a significant boost in the progress I’ve made, and things look increasingly positive going forward.

Looking toward the future, my relationship with the team is going to be changing. I’ll be returning to the University of Birmingham in September, and as such will be leaving the Vulcans. However, I know for a fact that I won’t be leaving the friendships I’ve made here behind me. I’ll be keeping in touch with many of my teammates and I’ll be visiting every chance I get. One year ago, I was making plans on how to make it through my year away from uni, now I’m looking forward to completing my degree next year so I can make a full return to the Vulcans. This inclusive rugby club taught me a lot about how to play rugby, but it taught me far more about what’s truly important and for that I will always be grateful.Sheffield Vulcans 2019

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Tom for everything he’s brought and continues to bring to the Vulcans. Tom might be leaving Sheffield for the delights of Birmingham to complete his studies, but we don’t need to tell him that his spot on the Vulcans will be waiting on his return.


Why I love being a Sheffield Vulcan: Chris’s story

With us unable to train at home up at Sheffield Tigers RUFC as a single unit, the Sheffield Vulcans haven’t let the lockdown dampen our team spirit. We’re still working on our fitness by running drills in pods of six around the steel city making sure we’re ready for the upcoming season. So, as we continue training under RFU guidelines, we want to share with you why we love being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans.

That’s why we’ve reached out to a few of our players and asked them to share their story with you about their personal experiences of being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans. We asked them about how they came to know about the club, why they joined the team and what advice they have for individuals interested in playing rugby.

This is Chris Moore’s story…

Chris MooreBrief history lesson – I played from school age until U21s and a few senior games at Durham City Rugby Club, before cutting short my playing days following a couple of bad injuries in quick succession, combined with a move down south to the wonderful city of Sheffield.

Fast forward 20-odd years and I suddenly, weirdly, start getting the itch to play again, around about the time of my 41st birthday. I had gone from having limited interest in the sport, to desperately wanting to be back out there, making those hits and testing myself. I can’t explain why.

That said, with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve found myself wondering just why it was that I let rugby drift out of my life like that? I’d gone from playing 2 or 3 times a week for 15 years or whatever it was, to barely engaging with something that had previously meant so much to me.

It’s crossed my mind that it might be because I lost my dad in my early 20’s, not that long after I moved down here. Rugby was our thing. We used to go to watch Newcastle Falcons together when we had this young 16-year-old kid called Jonny Wilkinson on the bench, who apparently was going to make it big, according to whispers around Kingston Park.

So, it has occurred to me recently that it might have been because of that missing element. That gap in proceedings. We couldn’t watch games together or discuss them on the phone anymore. I think I’d just fallen out of love with the game and it wasn’t even a conscious decision I was aware of at the time. That’s just one possible theory, anyway.

Not that it was just my dad who was bang into it. My mam once ran onto the pitch to rescue one of my team mates, who she spotted getting kneed in the face at the bottom of a ruck.

“He’s not even your son!” they shouted.

“They’re ALL my boys” she replied, as the ref showed her the red card. She got a special award at the end of season for that – the first and only spectator to get sent off!

Anyway, the Vulcans. Thanks to the dubious wonders of facebook’s targeted advertising, I’d seen an advert for a rugby team that accepted you regardless of age, experience, ability, fitness levels, or orientation. Perfect!

I got in touch and went along, but it was WAY different to what I was used to. I found a bunch of guys in Endcliffe Park, knocking about under a temporary flood light. I mean, great lads and I really enjoyed it, but it was not the normal club set up I was accustomed to. I’ll come back to that later though.

Somewhere between making the initial enquiry and turning up to training, it occurred to me that this was a “gay” rugby club. I mean, it’s not, we’re an inclusive team open to everyone, so I got that bit wrong for a start.

Chris MooreBut it had never even crossed my mind, to be honest, even though the advert did indeed mention orientation. I’d followed Vulcans on Instagram and kept seeing #IGR – I wondered what the hell is IGR?

Oh, it’s International Gay Rugby.

I have to be honest and say there were questions.

“What will my friends think?”

“Will it be proper rugby?”

“Will I fit in, or even be welcome?”

Well that all turned out to be a load of bollocks. I took the plunge and soon realised this was the best decision I’ve ever made. Sheffield Vulcans changed my life.

So, let’s get this cleared up. If you’re a straight guy worrying about joining an inclusive IGR team, then worry not. I belong to a club that plays rugby for the love of the sport. No initiation ceremonies or ‘hazing’, none of that toxic masculinity that can unfortunately be prevalent in a lot of ‘mainstream’ or university clubs. It’s rugby without all the stereotypical nonsense that can unfortunately give rugby players a bad name.

We’re just here to grow and improve together. We are brothers. Actually, we’re sisters too. We’re whatever. It doesn’t matter. Sheffield Vulcans has made me a better person; not that it’s changed my beliefs as such, but it’s given me a better understanding of the world and the array of humans that inhabit it.

And as for the rugby itself, let me tell you “gay rugby”, to borrow a phrase from a certain local magazine editor, is still bloody brutal when you cross that white line. It still hurts. It still feels just as good though. It’s no different, actually. And it doesn’t matter how old you get, you still kinda enjoy collecting cool scars and comparing bruises.

Looking back on those early days in the park, despite my reservations about the set-up, it was clear to me that there was a lot of potential there. There were new players who’d barely touched a rugby ball before, who I could tell had it in them to be very handy on the pitch. This could be a great team. There was a collective energy and enthusiasm that told me there was more to come from this lot, but the lack of facilities was frustrating.

Having said that, the club didn’t even exist until a few years ago, so I’ve nothing but respect and admiration for those founding members who’d got it off the ground, with kits, sponsors and so on. To build a rugby club from scratch is some achievement and we should never take that for granted; we’re forever in their debt. But there was an increasing groundswell of opinion amongst more experienced members that we could push on to be bigger and better.

And that’s where Sheffield Tigers come into the picture. Without boring you with the details, Sheffield’s premiere rugby club has taken us under their wing (paw?) and forged a partnership with the Vulcans to see us ground-share with them up at Dore Moor.

It’s early days yet, annoyingly put on pause by COVID-19 recently, but already the huge improvement in facilities has led to both tangible results on the pitch, as well a positive mood-shift with the group towards feeling like this really is the start of us reaching our full potential. We ARE a proper club and we belong here. We’ve earnt it.

We’ve just had our most successful season ever, undefeated at home with some big numbers on the scoreboard, plus an ever-so-tense first away win in London. We were confident enough to enter ourselves into the top tier of a recent tournament, pitting ourselves against the big guns in IGR, despite technically still being a ‘development team’. We could have gone into the lower tier and had a genuine shot at some silverware, but nah. Fortune favours the brave!

Sheffield Vulcans is team that is going somewhere and I’m very excited about what the future holds. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for and hope I can serve the club well, by putting back into the team as much as it’s given me.

Chris’s advice for individuals wanting to play rugby:

If you’re thinking of trying something new, or like me want to rekindle an old flame, then we’d absolutely love to welcome you along for the ride. Just bring snacks, yeah?

We’d like to thank Chris for sharing his story.

If you want to know more about the Sheffield Vulcans or you are interested in joining us at our next available training session you can join our Facebook group here or you can click here to register as a Vulcan.


Why I love being a Sheffield Vulcan: Jon’s Story

With us unable to train at home up at Sheffield Tigers RUFC as a single unit, the Sheffield Vulcans haven’t let the lockdown dampen our team spirit. We’re still working on our fitness by running drills in pods of six around the steel city making sure we’re ready for the upcoming season. So, as we continue training under RFU guidelines, we want to share with you why we love being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans.

That’s why we’ve reached out to a few of our players and asked them to share their story with you about their personal experiences of being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans. We asked them about how they came to know about the club, why they joined the team and what advice they have for individuals interested in playing rugby.

This is Jon Dickinson’s story…

Jon DickinsonI’ve never been one for sports but after clocking in at almost thirty stone at my heaviest, I have been on a fitness journey over the last two years in pursuit of mental and physical well-being. It began when my GP decided to check my HbA1c levels after experiencing a number of symptoms such as low energy levels and an increased thirst. So If you know what that means you can probably guess where this is going…

After being called back to receive my results it was confirmed that my blood glucose level was dangerously high. Although it wasn’t enough to be considered Diabetic, I was diagnosed as Pre-Diabetic and at a high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. I was basically told that if I didn’t immediately change the path I was on then things will only get worse and that’s when my GP went into a tirade of what could happen to my body. It was at that moment that the fear of god was put into me and from that day that I vowed to make a change. A change that would set me on to a new and exciting adventure.

So, with the days of spending hours on end watching films behind me, I used NHS resources to build a healthier relationship with food and forced myself to become more active by walking long distances twice a week. I even booked a holiday to Florida to keep me focused on losing weight because I knew the fear of doing the walk of shame after not being able to fit on the rides would be enough to keep my urges to binge in check. That said, it’s easier said than done but I was determined to do everything within my power to reverse the diagnosis and after 9 months of continual hard work and dedication, I was successful.

Having improved my overall fitness, shifting six stone in weight and reversing my Pre-Diabetic diagnosis, I was looking for a new way to keep fit and that’s when I discovered the Vulcans. I saw a post on Facebook promoting the Sheffield Vulcan’s after pride party. Unaware of who the Vulcans were prior to that I checked out their page to discover they were a local inclusive rugby team and that a few members team were hosting a stall at Sheffield Pride. It was a shame that the event was completely rained out. As I was making my way to the park I full on decked it after slipping in the mud and I didn’t want that to be my first impression so to save myself embarrassment I returned home feeling incredibly red-faced.

That night I decided to attend the Vulcan’s After Pride party on my own. It was at that point that I saw an old work colleague of mine and she introduced me to her fiancé Michael Callaghan and he was the first Vulcan I spoke to. He introduced me to Craig Waterhouse and they took the time to listen and answer my questions. I explained my concerns on never playing any sports previously and was assured that as an IGR team the Vulcans were a very supportive team and they’d love to see me attend training and that started my journey.

I’ll always remember my first training session with the Vulcans. I knew that unless I applied myself 100% I was not going to commit so I invested in a full Rugby kit and set off to join the first welcome session at Endcliffe Park. It was at that moment that the heavens opened and it rained so hard that I actually thought training wouldn’t take place. Nonetheless I persevered to Endcliffe with the idea that if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to go back. I was the first to arrive so I changed into my new rugby boots and waited patiently. One by one the team begun to arrive and that’s when I took my first steps onto the field.

I remember having enjoyed the first welcoming session. Sure, I felt out of my depth but there was no denying how much I was made to feel welcome. In fact, during that session, fellow Vulcans Chris Moore and Richard Mather took me under their wing and took time to explain what was happening play-by-play and it was because of this that I attended the second training session taking a couple of days later. My first week was rounded off with my first team social and my future with the Vulcans was set in stone.

I have come a long way thanks to my fellow Vulcan brothers. I’ve played several games and fallen in love with a sport that’s right for me. I have even been fortunate to be awarded Forward of the Match in my debut game against Hull Roundheads and I have recently joined the Sheffield Vulcan committee where I am responsible for the club’s social media platforms. So, if you had told me two years ago that this is where I was going to be today, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Sheffield Vulcans 2019

Jon’s advice for individuals wanting to play rugby:

Playing Rugby Union has given me the confidence to believe in myself and value my own ability. Sure, it was scary to join a group of talented amateur rugby players but the benefits outweighed the fear in every category. Joining the Vulcans has not only improved my fitness levels but it has changed me forever. Without sounding too dramatic joining the Sheffield Vulcans has saved my life. So if you want my advice I urge anyone who has even the smallest interest in playing the sport to try it (pun intended). I did and have never looked back.

If you want to know more about the Sheffield Vulcans or you are interested in joining us at our next available training session you can join our Facebook group here or you can click here to register as a Vulcan.


Lets Tackle the Stigma of Mental Health

As Sheffield Vulcans we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental health is important. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress on and off the pitch and how we make decisions. That’s why we stand together as a club to provide a warm and welcoming environment where everyone feels valued.

We are delighted to be in partnership with LooseHeadz, the rugby leisurewear brand stocking high-quality workout gear from sizes Small to 4XL whose aim is to tackle the stigma of mental health in rugby. With every purchase made via their website, the LooseHeadz Foundation with the help of Team Mental Health, are funding events and initiatives to rugby players at every level of the game, aimed at opening up the conversation around mental health.

Every penny that goes into the LooseHeadz Foundation is used to tackle the stigma of mental health in sport and we’re excited to offer our amazing players, members and supporters of our club 15% off any purchase of LooseHeadz gear. Head over to their website and use the code “SheffVulcans” at checkout.

By choosing LooseHeadz, not only will you be helping to tackle the stigma of mental health but you will be supporting us as well. Let’s work together to make the conversation about mental health be as normal as one about any physical injury or ailment.